Students at a university in California will soon be able to take on the trillion-dollar meat industry - using their own high tech lab.
The University of California, Berkeley is creating an 'Alternative Meats Lab' known as the alt.meat lab, which will offer the latest technology and tools to allow students to 'build' plant-based meat.
Last semester, UC Berkeley offered the world’s first course entirely focused on developing plant-meat products. The course was so popular it will be offered again.
The lab and the course will be led by the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology [SCET] at the university - a center which helps students create tech startups.
SCET has joined forces with the Good Food Institute [GFI], a non-profit which champions the alternative meat market. GFI will provide domain expertise, as well as connections.
GFI Senior Scientist, Christie Lagally, says: "This course is a unique opportunity for students to work collaboratively with experts in the food industry to tackle the complex technical challenges of designing and producing high-quality meat replacements that meet the needs of consumers."
The target of this alternative to animal flesh is not vegans and veggies - but meat-eaters.
According to visiting professor Ricardo San Martin, co-chair for the new lab: "There is evidence that meat-lovers would buy plant-based meat alternatives if the taste is right.
"One of our goals for the lab will be to develop delicious food that is similar to meat from a nutritional and functional perspective, but may not necessarily mimic meat exactly."
In order to create a product that is attractive to meat eaters, students will work with experts in the fields of flavor and fragrances.
Ikhlaq Sidhu, faculty director and founder of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at UC Berkeley, and professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research, said: "Through our network of alumni, investors, and founders, we determined that meat alternatives represent one of the biggest opportunities for creating a startup right now.
"The market is huge, and we believe the technology is ready for entrepreneurs to compete with traditional meat in the near future."